Broad Statewide Coalition Launches to Ensure Excellence and Equity in Michigan’s ESSA Plan

Prominent business, civil rights and education advocacy groups come together for Michigan students

LANSING, Mich. (Dec. 7, 2016) – Calling on State Superintendent Brian Whiston and the State Board of Education to make equity and excellence a real priority in Michigan’s forthcoming Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, today allied organizations — representing civil rights, education advocates, and business organizations — announced the formation of the Michigan Students Achieve coalition to focus on how Michigan can seize the opportunities provided by the new federal education law. The bipartisan law, passed in 2015, focuses the opportunity and responsibility for improving outcomes, accountability for all groups of students and improvement actions on the state and local school districts.

The unprecedented coalition includes: Black Family Development, Detroit Branch NAACP, Detroit Regional Chamber, Education Trust-Midwest, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Grand Rapids Urban League, Michigan Alliance for Special Education, Michigan Association of United Way, Michigan College Access Network, Michigan State Branch NAACP and the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan. This coalition is committed to ensuring that the Michigan Department of Education’s plan focuses on academic excellence for all students; prioritizes closing opportunity gaps for historically underserved students; ensures honest and transparent information for Michigan families and other stakeholders; and a true commitment to four central principles, which are outlined here.

“Michigan’s planning around ESSA should reflect our state’s values and priorities in education,” said Alice Thompson, the Education Chair of the Detroit Branch NAACP and CEO of Detroit’s Black Family Development. “Our first and foremost priority must be our students and ensuring every child has the tools and access to an excellent school so they can reach their full potential.”

“It’s no secret that not enough of our students are adequately prepared for life after high school,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of The Detroit Regional Chamber. “The success of our region, depends on the success of our talent. It is critical that Michigan’s ESSA plan prioritizes equal access and opportunity for all students.”

“Leading education states show how critical state systems can be for closing opportunity gaps, especially for children of color, low-income students, and students with disabilities,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest. “ESSA provides Michigan with a huge opportunity to leverage state improvement systems to help schools make dramatic gains in student achievement, but only if done right. The plan being prepared by the Michigan Department of Education, which is expected to be completed in the spring, will have a lasting impact on Michigan students schools for years to come.”

For more information on ESSA and the coalition’s recommendations, or to get involved, please visit

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Contact: Brian Gutman

734.619.8008 x. 308